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How to Start a Successful Construction Business

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Starting your own construction business can offer several fantastic benefits. This includes the opportunity to be your own boss, manage your own team, and achieve your financial goals. Starting a business takes time and dedication, but any company has the chance to become successful with the right planning and hard work. Here are some useful tips on how to start a construction business: 

Write a quality business plan 

The first step to starting any new company is to write a quality business plan that outlines your specific business goals. This should include details on what action you are going to take to achieve each goal, along with other crucial information such as financial forecasts. Keep in mind that your business plan is a vital document that will guide you throughout your business venture. It will also be presented to investors and financial lenders to convince them to invest in your business. Every business owner should take the time to draft a quality business plan that clearly outlines their short term and long-term business goals. 

Ensure legal compliance 

Starting a company can be complex, and several rules and regulations must be followed to ensure legal compliance. The legal requirements vary between states and countries, so you must do your research before starting a construction company. For instance, labor laws in Mexico are different from those in force in the United States. Understanding the business laws in your location will help you avoid any costly fines later down the line. If you’re unsure what legal standards apply, then it’s always best to seek professional advice from a specialist business lawyer. 

Develop strong marketing strategies 

You should start marketing your construction company as soon as possible to build brand awareness and generate new business. Marketing campaigns will be key to the success of your company, so take the time to conduct thorough market research and develop quality campaigns that reflect your brand image. Try to use a variety of online and offline marketing techniques to increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. For instance, combine print marketing like flyers and business cards, with digital marketing such as social media and email marketing. According to smallbusiness.chron.com, you can enhance your marketing by promoting your construction experience, specializing in a particular area of construction, and offering a generous referral program to encourage existing customers to recommend your products and services. 

Don’t forget to apply for liability insurance 

Liability insurance is essential for any business. If you don’t have insurance, then you will be personally liable for accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace, as well as any damage or theft of property. If you do not have the finances to cover these costs, then you risk having to declare bankruptcy and close your business. For that reason, you must take out insurance when starting a new construction company. Opt for general liability insurance and make sure that it offers the correct level of cover to protect your business in all possible situations. 

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Long-Term Upgrades for Your Home

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These homestead upgrades aren’t for the house flippers, the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, or the downsizing empty-nesters. They’re not quick and flashy, and you can’t hammer your way through the list over a long weekend. These upgrades are for the craftsmen who love their homes and plan to stick around for awhile – a long while. They’re for the homeowner who admires clean lines and straight edges, who thinks long and hard before ever picking up a tool, and who can learn to be patient.

Open Up Your Floor Plan

Maybe you’re lucky and your home came with what is called an “entertainer’s floor plan.” Maybe your kitchen already opens to the dining room and primary living/family room, complete with fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and French doors to a side patio. But there’s a high probability that your home did not come this way; and so you’ve got a good project that will take you a good, long time, and once you have finished, it will feel like you’re in a completely new living space. And everyone will say, “I thought that was never going to be finished,” but they’ll be so happy they suffered through all the dust.

Add a Second Kitchen – Outside

This project can be as involved as you want to make it. Ideally, an outdoor kitchen is equipped with refrigeration, a sink with running water, and some kind of equipment to cook on. Your cooktop could be a traditional range or, since you’re outside, a gas grill. If you opt for a grill, you can choose between freestanding and built-in options; just remember that a built-in model will probably feel like more of an upgrade.

Then… A Built-In Firepit

When the evenings aren’t too warm and aren’t too cold, there’s nothing quite like spending time around a firepit. The flames mesmerize, and the camaraderie feels that much more special. As with the outdoor cooking set-up, you once again have a variety of options; you may consider gas for its ease of operation and because it does not tend to flood your backyard with smoke the way wood-burning fire pits do.

Back Inside for a Bathroom Remodel

A well-remodeled bathroom will bring you more joy than all the popcorn ceiling removal and all the carpet upgrades in the world. One area of primary focus should be that of reforming your showering experience into one that rivals a luxurious hotel; it’s honestly not that difficult to do. Some in your home might really appreciate updated toilets, and if you live in a colder climate, heated toilet seats may not be out of order.

Nothing Says Pride of Ownership Quite Like Mature Landscaping

If you plan to live in your home for a long time, begin landscaping early on with an eye to the future - the distant future. Plant trees now that might take several years to come into their own, and before you know it you’ll be happy you made that decision. Mature landscaping is not unlike an overnight success; everybody will see (and probably envy) the sudden manifestation of awesomeness, but you’ll know that it took years of hard work. 

Update Your Fencing

Finally, let’s look at your fencing situation. If you’re still rocking the chain link fence that came with your home, you might want to consider installing something nicer. Because fence work is hard physical labor and can be difficult to do correctly, many homeowners bring in professionals. However, if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can save money on labor and spend those savings on the materials instead; this will result in a far more enjoyable fence. Don’t rule out privacy hedges and other forms of perimeter landscaping. While it may take some time for these plants to serve their purpose, they will grow soon enough, and you’ll be happy you got a head start.

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Three Ways to Refresh Your Home Décor With Yarn

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Whether you’ve lived in the same home for decades, or just moved in to a brand-new house, your interior décor speaks volumes about you. It suggests your sense of what is beautiful by how you arrange colours and shapes, and your sense of order by how well you optimize for open space. Guests will get a feel for your personality from any item you display, so every new edition is worth thinking through.

One way to be unique and pave your own stylistic lane is to accent your home with custom pieces in yarn. The projects you choose should be made from a sturdy acrylic yarn that will stand up to heavy use over the long term. The yarn should also come in the colours that go best with your existing furniture. That way, the pieces can become integral parts of the ambiance and gain character as your relationships with them deepen. Red Heart is one brand that comes to mind that fits the bill. Check the link to buy Red Heart yarn online and read up on what the manufacturer has to offer.

Without further ado, here are three ideas to jumpstart your home décor with yarn.

A Knitted Blanket

What better way to zhuzh up a living room than to add a splash of colour to the couch with a warm and fuzzy blanket? Just make sure to pick a pattern that complements the couch’s design. Here are a handful of crowd-pleasers for potential pairings:

  • Pinstripes
  • Ripples or waves
  • Chevron
  • Cables

The contrast is especially effective on monochromatic couches, but will work well so long as you choose your colours carefully. Don’t be afraid to go bold with it. Use this colour coordinator to come up with breathtaking combinations.

Yarn Wall Art

Showcasing your kids’ creativity is a great way to show them you’re proud and encourage them to keep sharing their ideas with the world. Find fun crochet or knitting tutorials online that suit their likes and abilities and have a weekend craft day together. Before buying supplies, have the kids try out a single crochet stitch and a garter stitch to see which one they find easier.

There is plenty of joy to be had from making memories and adorning your walls with them to cherish each and every day. Take advantage of the loads of free patterns online suitable for the whole family.

Crochet Baskets

An easy way to free up space and be fashionably tidy is to use crochet baskets for storage around the home. Use them for slippers next to your recliner for easy access, or for the pile of remotes that came with your state-of-the-art entertainment system.

Baskets are also perfect projects for beginners because you can repeat single crochet stitches all the way through. If you’re looking for an artistic outlet that engages as much as it does away with stress, crochet could be just the thing for you. 

Regardless of how much time you’ve spent in your home, a fresh new look is never more than a few careful adjustments away. Summon your inner interior designer and let yarn be the missing link between your home’s current aesthetic and how fabulous you think it can be.

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What Causes Roaches in a Clean House?

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Nobody likes seeing cockroaches, there is simply something about the way they scurry around that sends a shiver up your back. The instant assumption, when seeing a cockroach, is that you have a dirty home.

But, while cockroaches are attracted to dirty homes, that doesn’t mean you won’t find them in a clean home. Of course, if you do see signs of a cockroach infestation then you’ll want to call the professional exterminators as soon as possible.

Cockroaches, like most other pests, look for food, water, and shelter. They also carry an array of diseases including polio and typhoid. That’s why you should find out more about your local pest control experts now.

This is why the obvious target is a dirty home, any place that isn’t cleaned regularly will have crumbs on the floor, they may be tiny to you but they can be big enough to feed a roach for several days. But, if you’re confident your home is clean then consider the following factors which will all increase the likelihood of roaches finding their way into your home:

Where You Live

Unfortunately, if you live in the warmer states, such as Georgia, Alabama, or Florida you’re almost certainly going to get a roach or two in at some point.

The good news is that if you have a clean home it’s more likely to be a cockroach that has snuck in rather than a sign of an infestation.

Repairs

Keeping your home clean removes the food temptation. But, have you checked the interior and exterior of your home for potential entry points? Cockroaches can get through a crack or hole that is just 1/16 of an inch thick. Your home may be clean but it still offers shelter and potentially a source of water. Cockroaches will be attracted to this, you need to block up potential entry points. 

Door Spacing

It’s easy to overlook the small gap between your door and the floor, an essential gap for smooth opening and closing. This gap presents an opportunity for the cockroach to enter. You need to install dust bars. These are small brushes that fit on the bottom of your doors and prevent the roaches, and other pests, from getting through. The door can still open and close as normal.

It’s also a good idea to check the gaps around pipes coming in and out of the house, these are prime access points for roaches and other pests.

Eliminating the entry point for roaches will stop most other pests trying. 

Don’t Panic

If you do see signs of a roach infestation then you need to react quickly. Roaches breed at an impressive rate, the quicker you deal with the issue the less they’ll breed and cause issues for you in the future. 

You’ll know you have an issue if you have the following symptoms:

  • Unpleasant and unidentified odor
  • Brown or black cylindrical droppings
  • Discarded skins where they’ve shed as they’re growing
  • Smear marks on the floor and edges of the walls

If you see signs get expert help immediately!

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Upgrades You May Want to Consider During a Major Home Renovation

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There’s an extensive amount of work that takes place during a home renovation. Appliances and fixtures are removed, floors are pulled up, and walls are demolished. All this construction, eventually, creates a blank canvas for homeowners to have transformed into a space that is safe and comfortable to reside in. As all this is going on, however, renovations also bring to light things within the property that need to be enhanced in order to prevent future problems and/or to make life easier.

As matters such as these listed below arise, homeowners will have to make an informed decision on whether or not they should consider an upgrade.

Electrical

Knocking down walls, pulling up floors, and removing appliances and fixtures will often expose electrical wiring throughout the house. Contractors will often recommend that homeowners consider electrical upgrades if there were faulty or damaged wires, the system no longer complies with local building codes, or the electrical power in the home wasn’t sufficient enough to withstand the new renovations (for example, if you’re getting a home theater, you might need an upgraded power source to ensure it will operate efficiently).

You would then need to look to resources like PacmanElectric.com services for assistance with an energy audit, electrical wiring upgrade, panel installations, and repairs. Sometimes, it may be ideal to have an electrician come to your home at some point during the renovation. For instance, if you were having your kitchen upgraded but always felt like there were not enough electrical sockets in the kitchen, now would be the best time to have them installed before closing walls back up and adding more appliances.

Plumbing

When it comes to kitchen and bathroom renovations especially, it may be determined that you need to have your plumbing upgraded. This is particularly true if you’ve got rusted pipes or water, water flow issues, flooding, leaks, or mold. If you ignore these issues when they are brought to your attention, you will surely run into problems later. As most pipes and plumbing fixtures are hidden behind walls and other equipment, trying to fix the problem later on means that you’ll have to have your newly renovated kitchen or bathroom damaged again in order for the plumber to resolve the problem.

HVAC

Another area that you may want to consider upgrading during a renovation is the heating and cooling system. Most households utilize their HVAC systems all year long. The constant wear and tear (even with regular maintenance) eventually cause the unit to not work as efficiently. If your system is more than 10 years old, has caused a spike in your electrical bills, doesn’t get the room to the right temperature, constantly needs repairs, or makes loud noises, an upgrade is definitely worth considering. You might also want work done on your HVAC system if you’re interested in installing vents in rooms that don’t have them or if you’re adding a new room or extending your home.

Tech Upgrades

Home automation has become increasingly popular these days. Not only does having technology into your home provide comfort, safety, and convenience, but it can save you money and increase the resale value of your property. Depending on the type of tech you’re thinking of installing or updating in your home, it will require hardwiring which means it is best to consider it while renovations are underway. Some upgrades you might benefit from are a programmable thermostat, USB outlets, security systems, built-in speakers, energy-efficient lighting, or a home automation system. If you are contemplating some tech upgrades in the home, be sure to make this known to the contractor prior to construction so that it can be incorporated into the layout and added to the renovation schedule.

When you think of renovating your home you often think about what you want done, how much you can afford, who you’re going to hire, and how long it will take to complete. While these are all important things to consider, adding upgrades to your list of considerations (and your budget) is highly recommended. As you can see from above, the right renovations can prevent problems down the line, save you money, increase your property value, and provide your household with enhanced safety, comfort, and convenience.

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4 ways to save more time in the kitchen as a busy parent

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We’re pretty sure you’ve heard – and experienced – the news. Life as a parent is tough. All of that disposable time that you once had has since evaporated, and you are left scratching your head at just how to manage your day-to-day life as efficiently as possible.

It would be fair to say that the kitchen feels like one of the biggest areas of the home with the most pressure associated with it. After all, this has quickly become a common room for families to come together, as well as being the place where much of the cooking and cleaning chores take place.

This is why we have dedicated today's article all about the kitchen, and just how a busy parent can save time within it. Let's jump into some fast tips to help you along.

Make sure your appliances are working as efficiently as possible

When we talk about appliances, we're mainly referring to dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.

If you don't have any of these in your home, we'd strongly urge you to obtain one now. Fortunately, the time it takes to install a washing machine and other such appliances is really insignificant in comparison to the use you will get out of it. Additionally, if you happen to be a new parent, having these time-saving appliances on hand is absolutely crucial. It sure beats heading to the launderette, or washing the dishes by hand.

Your freezer is crucial to your success

If you are serious about making the most of your kitchen from a time perspective, at least tap into the full benefits of your freezer. This is something that allows you to meal prep, and just cook in bulk which can help your plight significantly from a time point of view.

Additionally, if you can stock it up with packed vegetables or side dishes, it becomes one of those go-to areas for food when times really are getting tough and the day seems to be running away from you.

Double up on your recipes

Following on from the previous point, an easy tip is to double up on your recipes and then take advantage of the freezer.

Far too many of us only cook for the here and now. Instead, cook for the next few days. You don't have to eat it all at once (you have a freezer, after all), but it will shave significant portions of time from your food preparation activities.

Your kitchen counters need to be cleared at all times

Finally, let’s conclude with a point about clutter. Your worksurfaces are something that can sometimes feel the brunt of clutter and before you know it you have them stocked with toasters, condiments and anything else that makes their way onto them.

Have a strict rule to avoid the above. As soon as clutter breaches these surfaces, it won’t stop. It will start to take over and you’ll soon be struggling to carry out basic tasks. Not only that, but clutter can affect your mental health, as strange as that might seem to some of you.

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Home Maintenance Checklist

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Keeping your home clean is a matter of daily and weekly chores, but keeping it well maintained takes work throughout the whole year. Some tasks around your house become big projects, so you don’t need to worry about them every day. Simply create a checklist of things you know you need to check on monthly, quarterly, and annually to keep your home safe. Here’s an example list to get you started. 

Monthly

  • Clean HVAC Filters

Checking and cleaning your filters will help improve the air quality and performance of the system in your home. Some HVAC filters are reusable while some must be replaced. If you check your filters every month you’ll know when you need to replace them. 

  • Check Gutters

Gutters help keep water from damaging your home, but it’s hard for the gutter to do its job if it is full of debris. Each month, look for any damage to your gutters or for anything that could be blocking water’s path and take care of it.

  • Inspect Water Softener

Water softeners help to eliminate hard water and protect your plumbing. If you don’t inspect your water softener and replenish its salt levels often, it could start leaving mineral deposits on your shower, toilet, and your hair. 

  • Look For Deteriorating Caulk

Caulk gives your home a finished look. Not only that, but caulk also helps prevent water damage. When you notice any deteriorating caulk in your home, you should patch it up right away to avoid any damages. 

Quarterly

  • Spray for Pests

Spraying for pests each quarter will help ensure a pest-free property all year long. Plus, some pests are more likely to appear during certain times of the year. Hiring a service like ifyardbutler.com for quarterly spraying will help eliminate pests from your home altogether. 

  • Inspect Roofing

Your roof keeps you safe, so if there’s a problem, like a leak, termites, or structural problem, it poses a safety risk for your family. Take time each season to inspect your roof (with binoculars or hire a contractor) for any missing shingles or tiles or any possible areas of destruction. 

  • Check Fire Alarms

Fire alarms are also there to keep you and your family safe from fires. Checking them will either ensure that they are working and will keep you safe, or will notify you that you need to replace the batteries. 

Annually

  • Clean Chimney

A clean chimney will help keep the air in your home pure and breathable. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, the chimney still carries gases from your furnace outside, so make sure it’s checked by a professional every year—preferably before the cold season starts. 

  • Check Septic Tank

Usually, a septic tank doesn’t need to be cleaned every year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it checked. Septic tank emergencies can be expensive and unpleasant, so have it inspected annually and cleaned as it needs it. 

  • Inspect Foundation

The foundation is extremely important to your home. You should check to make sure there are no cracks that could lead to damaging your home or any depressions outside that could trap water or snow against the foundation. 

Don’t let your home maintenance get away from you — make a list!

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5 Things to do Before Remodeling Your Basement

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There are tons of ideas out there for what you can turn your dingy, dark, yet huge and oddly appealing basement into. But, before you do, you need to be sure your basement is ready and up for the task. Keeping that in mind, read on below for a few of the top things you should do before your basement remodel begins to ensure it's ready for the process.

Whether the goal is a mother-in-law suite (zoning permitting) to a game room complete with a stereo system for the kids, remodeling and finishing the basement is one job you'll be glad you did — and did right.

Make Sure Your Plan Is Legal

Between zoning laws, homeowner's associations and even historical societies, there are a lot of people who want to control what you can build in your basement. Make sure you or your contractor obtain all the necessary permits and inspections needed before, during and after the job. This will ensure the work is up to code in terms of any plumbing and electrical work, which in turn, keeps you and your family safer.

One thing to note, in many cases, no matter how beautiful the workmanship and design are, a finished basement will NOT be considered livable space and will not add to the legal square footage of your home. Be sure to check your local building and zoning codes for limitations and restrictions.

Fix Any Water Damage

Water damage is serious, and you want to find and fix it as soon as possible, especially before you start any construction. Not only should you check for water damage, you should check to see if there are any moisture issues at all. Just as with water damage, moisture coming in through the windows or the foundation of the basement needs to be dealt with right away. If you put off fixing these problems, then your new basement will become damaged and you'll be in for much more costly repairs.

Insulate Your Utility Pipes

If you have exposed water pipes anywhere on the outside wall of your basement, you're going to want to insulate them before you close them in with your remodel. This ensures that you're not suffering from heat loss in the winter months through those pipes and will help with your heating bills as well. It also ensures that your pipes won't freeze and burst over a long hard winter and that condensation doesn't back up and drip down into your walls as well.

Make Sure You Have Enough Headroom

Talk the contractor you have remodeling your basement to ensure that the basement is going to have enough headroom, because if it doesn't, then the room might not be up to code. Homes that were built in the 1950s often had very little headroom in the basement, which meant the ceilings and pipes hung too low. If your basement ceiling is too low, you might have to make adjustments to bring it up to code first. Besides, it will be a whole lot more fun to be in your basement if you don't have to bend over to do so.

Take Your Budget into Consideration

When determining what to turn your basement into, and all of the things above, it's important to take your budget into consideration as well. Budget for everything from materials and contractors to inspections and cost overruns. And don't forget the extra cost of heating and cooling the basement.

These are just a few of the things that you need to consider when looking to renovate your basement. Taking care of these things ahead of time will ensure your basement is done on schedule and that your family has a fun place to hang out for many years to come.

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The Best Bungalow Communities in Southern California

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The humble bungalow in all of its various iterations is easily one of the most popular home styles found throughout southern California. Thanks to their sloping roofs, dormer windows, and exposed rafters, they boast a distinctive look that's pleasing to the eye. Here are a few great places to score a bungalow in Southern California that you will love.

San Marcos

One of the most attractive communities in the North County area, San Marcos is just 40 minutes away from San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. You'll find plenty of Craftsman bungalows along its quiet streets at a variety of price points. Like most communities in Southern California, the average price of housing in San Marcos is higher than the national average. What’s more, homes for sale get sold fast. With this in mind, those buying a bungalow should seek out credit unions in San Marcos instead of a traditional bank This ensures the best mortgage possible. This is recommended for other communities listed below.

North Park, San Diego

Like most neighborhoods around Balboa Park, North Park is a treasure trove of Craftsman and California bungalows. The Dryden Historic District, in particular, is stacked to the rafters with turn-of-the-century houses that have been meticulously maintained. Buying a vintage bungalow in this zip code is sure to be a winning investment if you can secure a deal on an older model.

Mission Hills, San Diego

Located just north of downtown San Diego, Mission Hills still retains much of its historic look despite urban renewal projects. This neighborhood is so in love with bungalows that their latest library boasts a Craftsman-style aesthetic. If you love bungalows, Mission Hills is a prime hunting ground for quality Craftsman cottages that have stood the test of time.

Woods Streets, Riverside

Developed around 1913 when Riverside was expanding rapidly, the Woods Streets community has a number of period homes worth considering. Many old Craftsman and California bungalows dot the local streets, imbuing the neighborhood with a unique feel that's unrivaled throughout southern California. What's more, the average home price in this zip code will make central Los Angeles residents envious.

Bungalow Heaven, Pasadena

Centered around McDonald Park, this residential enclave originally featured as many as 800 bungalows of all shapes and sizes. Bungalow lovers continue to flock to this landmark district to partake in tours of the most prominent houses in the area. Located less than 10 minutes from Old Pasadena, Bungalow Heaven offers quick access to a slew of recreational options.

Belmont Heights, Long Beach

Along with Bungalow Heaven, Belmont Heights has one of the highest concentrations of Craftsman homes in all of Southern California. Once an independent city, this community is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Long Beach. The Belmont Heights Historic District and the Eliot Lane Historic District are top destinations for bungalow fanatics that prioritize proximity to the beach.

Eagle Rock

While Eagle Rock tends to fly under the radar when it comes to Los Angeles neighborhoods, this area is a bungalow lover's dream thanks to a bevy of historic buildings. Due to rapid gentrification, Eagle Rock is now one of the most popular neighborhoods in the entire city. If you can find a bungalow up for sale, it's best to make an offer quickly.

Finding the Best Deal on Your Ideal Bungalow

Getting the most out of your southern California bungalow hinges on two factors. First, you need to make sure that the house has good bones. Second, you'll need to locate a lender that can finance your mortgage at a favorable rate. In any event, there's no shortage of fine bungalows in the locales mentioned here.

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Things People Don’t Consider When Choosing a Town to Live In

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Looking for a home or apartment is more complicated than it may appear. For someone who has never done it before, it may seem as though you simply look for places you like within a price range you can afford. In actuality, however, there’s a lot more to it. Similar to selecting a destination to travel to, you want a location that encompasses everything that accommodates your needs and interests. You look at more than just the hotel or vacation rental, but the local culture, activities, attractions, and more. 

Though on a larger scale than choosing a vacation destination (you’ll be living in your home or apartment a lot longer than you’ll be on vacation), it is important to be thorough in your research about the property, the neighborhood, and other factors to ensure it is in fact a town where your immediate and long-term needs and interests are met. 

With that being said, beyond finding the perfect home or apartment in the right price range, here are some other things to consider before deciding which town to make your new home: 

Local Government

You don’t have to be a political person, but you should know about the local government wherever you plan on moving to. These are the people that make decisions for the city you choose to reside in. They are responsible for the parks and recreation, housing services, emergency medical services, public works, public transportation, the police and fire departments, building codes, and much more. Though no local municipality is perfect, moving into an area that doesn’t line up with what you believe or a government that does not provide adequate services and treatment for their residents can make living there a lot more challenging.

Cost of Living

Sure, you can afford the home or apartment you’re interested in moving into, but can you reasonably afford to live in the town you’ve chosen? The cost of living in a particular area is the ballpark amount required to cover basic necessities like housing, taxes, healthcare, food, etc. If you can afford a place to stay but can’t afford to keep up with the taxes, buy groceries, or obtain adequate health coverage, chances are moving to this town will put a financial strain on you.

Public Transportation and/or Walkability

Whether you drive a car or not, when deciding which town is best to move to, you should find out about the area’s public transportation or walkability rating. You never know when your vehicle could breakdown causing you to have to use other means of transportation to get around. So, you want to know that there is public transportation that would get you to and from places like your job, your house, a school, or a shopping center for groceries and other necessities.

If public transportation isn’t highly accessible, then at the very least, things should be easy to walk or ride a bike to (walkability rate). If you wanted to live in Cypress, California, for example, can you easily walk to work, walk the kids to school, or ride your bike to shopping centers or gyms in Cypress? Or, would you have to carpool or use ridesharing services to get to those places?

Employment Opportunities

Unless you’re planning on keeping the job you currently have, you’ll need a new one once you move. Before putting a down payment or deposit on a place, find out if you’ll be able to secure a job in the area you’re interested in moving to. There would be nothing worse than getting a place and then going into foreclosure or getting evicted because you couldn’t find a job to keep up with the expenses. Do research to not only see if there are opportunities available, but that these opportunities are aligned with your skills, education, and professional area of expertise.

School Systems

If you’re relocating with children, doing a thorough investigation into the school systems is also recommended. It is not enough that a city or town has schools, but how effective are these schools in providing an education to their students? What resources do they have? What’s the teacher to student ratio? Where do they rank in the local and national standardized testing each year? How large are their graduating classes? What type of curriculum do they use? These are all necessary questions to have answers to before deciding to move into a town where your children will essentially grow up.

Your next home purchase or apartment rental is more than just about what you like about the property and what you can afford. It is essentially choosing a place for you and potentially your family to reside for years to come. In order to ensure that your immediate and long-term needs and desires are met, it is imperative that you go beyond the purchase or rental price and look at factors like the local government, transportation, school systems, cost of living, and employment opportunities such as described above.

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Simple Ways to Update and Add Style to Your Home

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The thrill of purchasing a new home is a fantastic feeling, but for the most part it’s not fully yours until you’ve added your spin to it. Where should you start though? Here are a few ideas on how you can transform your house into a home you can be proud to own. Get the ball rolling with some nature-based modifications. 

Instituting Natural Materials 

If there’s anything that can instantly add style to your home and update the look and feel of the space, is an interesting floor. With all of the materials that are now readily available as flooring, including bamboo, you can create a space in your home where entertaining guests will be a breeze. Using natural materials throughout your home will uplift your space while adding unmistakable character. Start with your most popular gathering point, such as the living room and then migrate your efforts to the dining room and kitchen. When it’s all said and done, you should have a wonderful space to come home to at the end of a long day.

Add a Water System

Though it might not seem glamorous and for the most part it can be overlooked, updating your homes water system is beneficial. Hard water is a thing and it can wreak havoc on your plumbing. Also, it leaves unsightly stains that will drive you up the wall. If you are in the Santa Monica area, water softener Los Angeles can make hard water a thing of the past. You’ll instantly see an improvement in your water as a water softener will reduce water spots on your pots, pans, dishware and glasses. It’s an update that will have you asking “why haven’t we done this earlier?”

Colors Can Make a Difference

No matter which room you're talking about, the colors on your wall can make a big difference in the appearance of your space and the mood it sets. If you're looking to spruce up your home, a new coat of paint can be a simple fix. Choosing colors that pair well with each other and play to an overall scheme is the way to go. Look to add colors that will improve your mood as soon as you step into the room. Depending on the feel you're going for, there’s a hue to suit nearly every style. Decide between various blues, greens and yellows to bring your space to life. 

Spending Time in the Kitchen

It’s the space in any home where you spend a lot of you waking hours creating meals, so why shouldn’t it look awesome? Updating the look of your cabinetry is both cost-effective and easy to do. Start with choosing a new color or stain and replace the old hardware with something a little more modern and stylish. And if you’re feeling adventurous, add in new kitchen fixtures and appliances. This route will run you more money than simply updating your cabinetry but your efforts will be rewarded, as your kitchen will look amazing. 

A Bathroom Retreat

One of the last places you can and should update in your home is the bathroom. Here you can implement a few of the prior ideas such as color and materials, while also adding in new pieces such as a stylish sink and elegant bathtub. Combining all of these ideas and creating something beautiful will provide you with a little retreat in your home to call your own. Just imagine a tiring day at work and a grueling commute back home. Terrible right? But the payoff is a bubble bath and a good book in your newly renovated bathroom. This way, you can let all of the stresses of your day, simply melt and wash away. 

Updating your rooms can be as simple or involved as you like. The important part is that at the end of the day, you're happy with the space you've created. 

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5 Steps to a Successful Home Remodel

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Remodeling your home will renew your love for it and increase its market value. You will also repair broken or worn-out things you never got around to working on and replace broken fixtures. Everything will look better, feel better, and work better. 

Your project will be successful if you approach it methodically. You must create a detailed home improvement plan, create a budget, hire contractors, and figure out a reasonable timeline. Here are the five steps you should take to convert your pipe dream into a project: 

Step #1: Dare to Dream 

Now it’s time to dream. To get ideas, browse interior design magazines, surf the Internet to check out home-and-design websites, and talk to family and friends who have done remodeling their homes. 

Think about your ideal scene:

Do you want to slash your electric bill? A residential roofing company can add solar panels to your existing roof. Converting sunlight into energy will help you lower your electric bill. 

Do you want to convert the basement into a home office? If you’re planning on working from home, it would be wonderful to have your own fully functional office space. 

Do you need to increase security measures? Call a home security company to get ideas on the latest home security technology. 

Do you love to cook? Maybe it’s time to consider updating your kitchen

Don’t hamper your creativity with an excess of commonsense. You can rein in your enthusiasm later. For now, let your imagination run wild and free. 

Step #2: Get Realistic 

After you’ve created your ideal scene, figure out the cost of your project and its duration. If you consult the Cost vs. Value report for 2020, you‘ll get a rough idea of how much your renovations will cost. You will also have to work out how you will finance your project.

Step #3: Hire the Right People 

Once you have a clear idea of your plans, budget, and schedule, your next order of business is to search for a reputable design-build firm. This is a general contracting firm that uses architectural engineers, structural engineers, and specialty trade contractors to provide homeowners with design and construction services. Another option is to search for an architect familiar with residential design experience and a general contractor. 

This is the time to ask a lot of questions about the nature of the work, as well as get a good idea of what problems might arise during renovation and what to do about them. 

Step #4: Shop for Building Supplies

After you’ve found the right people to work on your project, shop for everything you will need for your project. 

Your shopping list might include: 

  • Paint 
  • Cabinets 
  • Tiles
  • Carpet 
  • Plumbing fixtures 
  • Countertops 
  • Lighting fixtures 

Step #5: Understand the Scope of the Work 

The contractor will organize a meeting with you to discuss the details of the renovation work.  Some things you and the contractor will discuss will include deciding when workers should arrive and leave, where to place the dumpster, how to store work tools and building materials, and so on. 

After the work begins, the contractor will update you on weekly progress in person, by email, text, or phone. The contractor will expect you to respond quickly if there are construction problems that need to be resolved.

Winding-up the Project  

Once the work is near completion, you and the contractor will tour the remodeled sections and make a list of what the work crew should complete or touch up. 

After the work crew cleans up the area, the contractor will ask you to make your final payments and you’ll get a lien release document and a certificate of completion. However, don’t sign off on the work until it meets your expectations.

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Useful Tips for Rental Property Owners

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Buying and owning residential rental properties can be a very lucrative venture. However, to be successful, you should have a plan going in and commit to never stop learning ways to improve. 

The following tips outline some of the best choices you can make as a rental property investor:

Opt for Hardwood Flooring

Not only is hardwood flooring more desirable among most tenants, but it also makes life as a landlord much easier. Hardwood lasts longer and is much easier to clean and maintain. Carpet often gets soiled very quickly, leaving your property in an undesirable state to live for prospective tenants until you opt for deep cleaning or replacement. This amounts to added investment for property owners, which they can avoid by sticking to hardwood floors. While not immune to damage and destruction, hardwood equates to less hassle. This, ultimately, equates to less money spent on your rental property.

Utilize A Property Management Service

Unless you own very few properties and are capable of managing every aspect of them yourself, you will likely be more successful working with a property manager. For this reason, finding property management in Fort Myers and other cities is a worthwhile investment for most rental property owners. Professional property management takes care of many of the most difficult aspects of renting a property; screening tenants, collecting rent, arranging for maintenance and handling tenant issues. They also have a network of professionals they can turn to for maintenance, legal matters, specialized contract work and others who can help you run your rental in a high-class manner. It’s a small price to pay for the assurance that these and other important aspects of rental property management are addressed in a timely and professional manner.

Allow Pets But Have Rules

Renters of the younger generations love their pets and allowing pets is a very desirable amenity among a large swath of renters. However, pets can be a nightmare for a landlord, causing damage and issues with other tenants. Although most landlords are under the impression that cats cause fewer problems than dogs, cats can actually leave more odor and be more destructive. At the end of the day, it's up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether to be a pet-friendly property owner. If you opt to not allow pets, do consider being flexible with those who have proven themselves good, responsible tenants.

Consider Renting By the Room

Most single-family homes available for rent are rented for a lump monthly sum. However, you have another option: you can rent the property by room. Renting by the room can be a great idea depending on the property's location, such as if it is close to a college campus. Renting each room individually usually allows you to justify charging more overall for rent since the cost is split among several people. This strategy has its drawbacks, such as a greater potential for roommate problems and a rate of higher maintenance issues, but is still worth considering.

Get All Necessary Permits for Upgrades

Eventually, you will want to install various upgrades in all of the rental properties you own. The laws governing these upgrades and additions will vary widely by state, local municipality and homeowners association, so be sure what you are planning is allowed. For example, converting garages into living space may not be legal without a proper permit. If you are working with a professional contractor, request a copy of their insurance and licensing information and keep it on file as well as make sure they pull proper permits to do the work. Be sure to only schedule updates that you can justify the cost with higher rent.

Renting a property provides a variety of challenges but ultimately can be a very rewarding experience. Leverage a qualified network of professionals to help you and make measured and educated choices. Doing so can drastically increase your chances of success.

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